DJ Premier Reveals All The MCs He Asked To Be On The Gang Starr Album & What Happened
At the top of the month, Gang Starr released One Of The Best Yet. The seventh album by Guru and DJ Premier features familiar collaborators such as Big Shug, Group Home, Jeru The Damaja, M.O.P., and Freddie Foxxx. Additionally, J. Cole, Talib Kweli, Royce 5’9, Q-Tip, and Nitty Scott, MC are involved. However, the collection of Guru vocals that DJ Premier acquired through Solar (through the mediation of attorneys) initially had other plans. In speaking to Take It Personal Radio for episode #55 (embedded below), Preemo opened up about One Of The Best Yet and explained his vision for the Gang Starr Enterprises/TTT release.
At 1:36:00, the Take It Personal squad asks Preemo if there were any planned guests for the album that were not able to make it. “Yeah, I asked Drake to get on it because I had just done ‘Sandra’s Rose’ for his [Scorpion double] album. So I was like, ‘You can get on this.’ But he was so deep into getting his touring together, it just wasn’t the right time to just knock it out real fast. I needed it done really, really [quickly], like yesterday at that time. Who else? When [Talib Kweli rapped], ‘It’s Gang Starr with the Black Star gang, bang bang,‘ I said, ‘Yo, I need Mos Def on it.’ He was supposed to do it. I kept stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him and stressin’ him, and it never got done. I said, ‘You know what? He owes me. So after I do this show in Colorado [in November], he’s gonna have to give me a verse. I’m gonna stress him about it, and before I do this show. If anything, I’ll do a part 2 to ‘Business Of Art,’ ’cause we plan on doing remixes and things like that.” Previously, Preemo produced “Mathematics” on 1999’s Black On Both Sides.
Premier continues, “Nas was supposed to get on it, but it wasn’t clashing right at the time. Honestly, Nas was like, ‘I’m just not in writing [mode]; I just have no writing in me right now. And if I’ma do it, I gotta kill it, ’cause I gotta sound as good as Guru. I just have no writing feels right now, so I just don’t wanna half-ass it.’ And I respected that. Me and Nas go back. We talk like that. We hang all the time, from here to there. So I told Nas, ‘Don’t even trip, man. I ain’t even mad at’cha.'” Nas appeared in a promotional video for One Of The Best Yet, recreating 1994’s “Aiight Chill” interlude from Hard To Earn. Preemo says that was made at his request.
DJ Premier adds, “I was gonna ask [JAY-Z], but I was just like, ‘Nah; I’m not gonna even approach him about it. I’m just gonna keep it movin,” but it would’ve been cool to have him on there. But I just said, ‘Nah, go with your gut.’ Kendrick [Lamar and his manager] Dave [Free] they said that he’s locked in, focusing on what he gotta do next. But as soon as I gave [‘Family And Loyalty’] to [J.] Cole, he immediately hit me back—after he heard it, and was like, ‘Bro, I have got the chills right now! Yo, this is dope!” Cole asked additional questions before submitting an extended verse that he recently vowed would be his last in a string of fantastic feature appearances, including Rapsody, 21 Savage, Royce 5’9, and others. Preemo says the MC/producer sent the verse quickly too.
Premier notes that Q-Tip had recently undergone throat surgery, which is why his the veteran’s voice may sound different on “Hit Man.” Additionally, Preemo reveals that he wrote the chorus to “What’s Real.” The Grammy Award-winning producer/DJ says there are reference tracks that he made for Melachi The Nutcracker and Lil Dap for the collaboration with Royce. “I was down in Texas, taking care of some family stuff,” he said. “When I heard Royce [mention Group Home in his verse], I’m like, ‘Damn, man. I wonder if I should put them on here with Royce?’ Because my plan was to put ’em on something, I just couldn’t think of when and what would fit. I’m very good at matching [guests and songs]. I started freestyling off the top of my head, and [recorded] it in my phone. But I was doin’ it with Dap and Melachi in mind.”
More than usual, Premier opens up about the frustrating dealings with Solar. Preemo contends that Guru’s later musical partner lied under oath about the recordings. The Take It Personal team also asks questions about a possible physical confrontation, given Gang Starr’s reputation in the streets. He recalls plans to confront Guru when he and Solar were slated to perform at New York City’s S.O.B.’s in the late 2000s. However, the show canceled before Premier had a chance to see his estranged creative partner. This interview goes places that many of the artist’s media opportunities do not go. He speaks candidly at length.
Preemo also says he’s planning another album with Jeru The Damaja. It would be the MC and producer’s first since 1996’s Wrath Of The Math. Elsewhere in the interview, the producer expressed frustration with onetime Gang Starr affiliates like Krumbsnatcha and Afu-Ra allegedly admitting public disappointment for not being included on One Of The Best Yet.
At AFH TV, DJ Premier provided a 20th-anniversary “Making The Music” in-depth interview regarding Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth. There are other videos related to Preemo and Nas. We are currently offering free 7-day trials.
New music, including “What’s Real,” from One Of The Best Yet is currently featured on the official Ambrosia For Heads Playlist.